The 12 gaming trends for 2024 that will shake things up

Gaming trends for 2024; game characters on a fireworks background
(Image credit: Getty Images / Chan2545)

Putting aside the fact 2024 will be dominated by GTA 6 trailers, leaks, news and rumours, and before I get started on video game trends for 2024 specifically, we need to glance back at 2023 and the sheer turmoil that has occurred, to put next year into context.

The past 12 months have been some of the most tumultuous ever seen in the games industry. Microsoft finally managed to close its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which at $68.7 billion is by far the largest ever takeover in the games industry, instantly handing Microsoft the rights to huge franchises such as Call of Duty, Diablo, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush.

But in the wider picture, the games industry has undergone a process of catastrophic downsizing, with an estimated 8,000 redundancies since the start of the year, as companies react to high inflation rates and past over-expansion, among other reasons. At the same time, the rise of generative AI in video games is threatening to replace low-level jobs.

Against this backdrop of disruption, we’ve also seen some truly astounding, groundbreaking games, such as Baldur’s Gate 3 and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Twenty-five games scored 90 or above on Metacritic – twice as high as the average for the past decade. The constant roller-coaster from record highs to record lows in 2023 was enough to give you whiplash.

So what does 2024 hold? What will be the video gaming trends for next year? Among other things, it's likely to promise a new major console in the form of the Nintendo Switch 2, as well as forays into mixed reality with the Meta Quest 3 and Apple Vision Pro and the prospect Apple and gaming may finally work. 

There's also the promise of dazzling new games made with Unreal Engine 5, as well as the rise of the open-source engine Godot, already a hit with many indie developers. 2024 promises to be another extremely memorable year – hopefully for the right reasons this time. Let's take a look at what gaming industry trends could come our way in 2024.

 01. Nintendo Switch 2 unveiled

Gaming trends for 2024; a Super Mario edition Nintendo Switch beside an image of Mario looking confused

A Nintendo Switch 2 is coming in 2024, but will it be a super-up 'pro' model or a 'mini'? Or both? (Image credit: Nintendo / Future / Aishah Lenore via Unsplash)

At the time of writing, Nintendo still hadn’t confirmed the existence of the Switch 2, or whatever the follow-up to the company’s best-selling Switch console will be named. But court disclosures revealed that Nintendo briefed Activision on the successor console back in December 2022, and Eurogamer reported that developers were given a behind-closed-doors demo of the Switch 2 at Gamescom in August. It seems likely that the console will emerge in 2024.

Samuel Roberts, former PC Gamer editor-in-chief and co-presenter of The Back Page podcast, thinks that Nintendo is holding back new entries in its biggest franchises for its next console. "Nintendo Switch 2 launching with a new 3D Mario feels like a dead cert to me, with a new Mario Kart to follow," he says. "My wild guess is the hardware will feature some kind of paid upgrade element when it comes to enhanced backwards compatibility – I could see them giving you a slightly better version of Tears of the Kingdom at a small price."

In recent months leaks and rumours around Nintendo Switch 2 have included a dual-screen model as well as suggestions the next Switch could downsize and become a Nintendo Switch 'Mini' - but with the power of a PlayStation 4.

02. Xbox fights back

Gaming trends for 2024; game logos

Xbox now owns some of gamings biggest brands, so expect Call of Duty, Diablo and more on Game Pass in 2024. (Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

In terms of console sales, Microsoft has been trailing Sony since the launch of the Xbox One in 2013. But the company has been acquiring studios left, right and centre over the past few years, culminating in the $68.7 billion takeover of Activision Blizzard in 2023, and it’s likely that we’ll see the fruits of that strategy in 2024.

"I think this could be a breakthrough year for Microsoft," says Roberts. "My guess is they'll kick the year off with a massive batch of Activision Blizzard games hitting Game Pass – what a way that'll be to enhance its already great value." 

He adds that Hellblade II from Ninja Theory, which has been used to showcase new MetaHuman Animation features in Unreal Engine 5, will provide a "major graphics showcase", and that Obsidian's Avowed is likely to be loved by players. "If they can get one more exclusive game into that line-up, that looks like a great year to me," he says.

03. Meta Quest 3 rules the VR roost

Gaming trends for 2024; a white VR headset with two controllers

Meta Quest 3 is set to be the best-selling VR headset in 2024, but will Apple and Sony compete? (Image credit: Meta)

This year saw the release of the Meta Quest 3 VR headset, and our reviewer has a glowing response to his play-through of First Encounters. With PSVR 2 restricted by a need for a PlayStation 5 and Apple Vision Pro too expensive for most, the VR race in 2024 could be dominated by Quest 3.

Henry Stockdale, staff writer at UploadVR, thinks that 2024 will be the year that the Quest 3 demonstrates its real potential. He is less hopeful about the future of Sony's PSVR2, the momentum for which "seems to have stalled", he says, and he remains doubtful about whether Apple’s forthcoming Vision Pro will have any long-term impact on gaming thanks to its hefty $3,499 price tag.

Samuel Roberts remains more cautious about the Quest 3's chances. "It's hard to see a world where the Meta Quest 3 exceeds the pandemic-supercharged sales of the Quest 2 – not unless they have a blockbuster or two that could really shift it," he says. Then again, he highlights the upcoming Batman game that was recently revealed through court documents. "Assuming it's made to harness the capabilities of the Quest 3, it might put VR back on people's radars," he thinks.

Meta Quest 3's potential success is also connected to the take-up of Meta Quest 2 and its huge games catalogue - with VR dev Archiact's Seb Bouzac telling us this remains the standard for developers to upscale from, meaning Quest 3 players have a massive games library from day one that will only get bigger.

04. Mixed reality makes a splash for Apple

Gaming trends for 2024; Apple Vision Pro accessories

Mixed reality is Apple Vision Pro's big tech punch for 2024, but will it be too early and too expensive? (Image credit: Casetify)

The Apple Vision Pro is currently expected to launch in March 2024, and as such it's likely that everyone will be talking about the potential of mixed reality in a few months' time. We don't know exactly which games will utilise the tech at launch, however – so far, Apple has only announced that around 100 existing Apple Arcade titles will be available.

Meta stole a march on Apple by including mixed reality with the Quest 3 in 2023, but Roberts thinks the tech remains associated with Apple: "[It] feels like a narrative Apple will control to me, despite Meta's best efforts," he says. Stockdale agrees: "I don't believe mixed reality will be the success Meta expects," he says.

It's hard not to ignore the impact Apple makes when it decides to get into a new technology; this is a brand that appeals beyond one demographic or industry, and by moving into VR, and also ramping up its gaming technology with the new M3 chips, will drive engagement. Will this mean mixed reality is the big win? Perhaps not, but VR overall could get a huge boost.

05. Multiplayer VR innovation

Gaming trends for 2024; a screen of a vr game, hands hold gadgets

Taskmaster VR could be one of 2024's best new VR games - will you win the season? (Image credit: Scallywag arcade)

Multiplayer games are likely to continue to be the lifeblood of VR systems. Gorilla Tag, where players chase each other around by dragging themselves along with their hands, has been an unexpected smash, with millions of daily active users.

Likewise, the VR survival game Ghosts of Tabor, inspired by titles like Escape from Tarkov and DayZ, has been steadily gaining fans in Early Access. Expect more innovative takes on VR multiplayer in the year to come, particularly as Meta Quest 3 cements itself as the new industry standard and parent company Meta develops and promotes new community features in VR gaming.

My pick of the best VR games coming in 2024 all have a multiplayer, social or competitive element to them. For my top five new VR games to watch in 2024, include the following titles:

  • Taskmaster VR Take part in weird min-games, solve puzzles and win the series in strange game based on the hit UK TV series. The mix of physical tasks and thinking creatively makes this a clear hit-in-waiting for VR headsets.
  • Bulletstorm VR The classic shooter from developer People Can Fly is heading back on VR headsets; the trailer looks to confirm the game co-op mode, making this smart shooter for 2024.
  • Gravity Royale VR A battle royale shooter built for VR and designed around physics-based gravity controls to soar and grapple about its maps. Developed using Unreal Engine 5, this looks special.
  • Mannequin Fast Travel Games' multiplayer game is a little different; when the round begins you must strike a pose and hide in plain site amongst frozen NPCs. Break your pose and you'll be spotted by opposing players.
  • Ghosts of Tabor The previously mentioned survival game has been doing great numbers in early access on PC VR, so expect this to be one of 2024's biggest new VR  games when it releases on Quest 3.

06. Big-budget mobile ports dry up

Gaming trends for 2024; resident evil village running on an iPad Pro

Will we see any more Triple-A games converted to mobile devices in 2024? Maybe not. (Image credit: Capcom)

Ports of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil Village to the iPhone 15 Pro in 2023 showed that Triple-A gaming is now possible on mobile phones. But Neil Long, founder of MobileGamer.biz, thinks we're unlikely to see many more Triple-A games make the leap to mobile. "It’s very likely Apple paid Capcom to port those Resident Evil games over to iOS in order to show off the power of its new chips," he says, adding that anyone who wants to play big-budget games such as these is likely to do so on console or computer, where they can be seen at their best.

However, he notes a few exceptions, such as Genshin Impact (one of the best anime games), Call of Duty Mobile and the forthcoming Assassin’s Creed: Jade. "These have the polish of a console game but have been built for mobile from the beginning, so take into account the need for very streamlined controls and play patterns," he says. "This is the way forward, I think."

07. Netflix Games is one to watch

Gaming trends for 2024; screens of games in a selection screen

Game streaming will become more common in 2024 with the likes of Netflix competing against Nividia, Sony and Microsoft. (Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix has been steadily building its games portfolio, curating a suite of desirable downloadable mobile titles, including the BAFTA-nominated Immortality, Into the Breach and Oxenfree II, with Hades due to join the service in 2024. However, mobile subscription services like Netflix Games and Apple Arcade (which has some of the best iPad Pro apps for Apple Pencil) still make up only "a tiny percentage of the market compared to free-to-play games," says Neil Long.

But Netflix has also been testing cloud streaming of games on TVs. If the company rolls out TV-based game streaming to its 247 million or so subscribers, it could become a major player in the games industry. In addition, the company is developing an unannounced Triple-A title with Halo veteran Joseph Staten as creative director, suggesting its taking streaming games very seriously.

In fact, 2024 could finally be the year stream video games finally becomes workable and successful. Netflix is not the only player, in 2023 Amazon, Nvidia and Xbox Game Pass have all found a footing in better streaming services, while Sony launched its streaming handheld, the PlayStation Portal and sold out within days. There's even good gaming with ChromeOS, in the Acer Chromebook 516 GE. Ironically, it's Google that could be missing out in 2024, if only it had stuck with Stadia.

08. More mobile games transition to console

Gaming trends for 2024; a collection of anime characters

The quality of mobile games means many, like Honkai: Star Rail, are finding a place on consoles and PC. (Image credit: HoYoverse)

Neil Long thinks that we’re going to see a lot more mobile games coming to consoles and PC. This strategy has often failed in the past, he tells me, but Genshin Impact has proven it can work, especially as the gap between production values for console and mobile narrows. "I'd expect more mobile-to-console and PC ports to take off in the coming years," he says.

Mobile gaming has always been the games industry's unspoken success story, according to research on Statista the mobile gaming market was worth $89.25 billion - there's a reason Microsoft wanted Activsion Blizzard and it wasn't all about Call of Duty - Candy Crush Saga its mobile games lineup is huge.

The 2024 trend for mobile gaming is also linked to Millennials and Gen Z gamers, who prefer playing on handhelds, for PS5, Xbox Series X and PC to grow these platforms need a broader audience. And the lines are blurring, with Switch 2 coming in 2024 and Apple joining up its games and mobile services, high-quality mobile gaming is going to be everywhere in 2024.

09. More AI integration

Gaming trends for 2024; a sci-fi scene made in unreal engine 5

Generative AI will used more in 2024 by game developers as tools from Nvidia, Copilot and more are adopted. (Image credit: Nvidia)

Generative AI has dominated the headlines in 2023, and it's likely to remain a hot topic in 2024. In game design circles, the debate has often centred around the use of AI image-generation software such as Midjourney and the ethical issues surrounding it, as raised by artist Kelly McKernan, but this technology remains too random and problematic to currently be of much practical use in making games.

Instead, we're likely to see more AI tools being integrated into software to help with tasks such as coding and the implementation of advanced VFX. For example, Copilot from Microsoft-owned GitHub is already being used by indie some developers to autocomplete code, and a variation of the AI program is now being integrated into Windows 11 and Microsoft 365. 

Given the issues of copyrights around using AI art, many devs are using the tools in limited ways, but as Ghostrunner 2 director Wojciech Wilk told us, "AI is a powerful tool for enhancing creativity" and one many small teams can't overlook. This year was the moment many tech companies showed off how generative AI could be used, for example with Nvidia's AI for NPC scripting, so expect 2024 to be the year some of these ideas and put into practice. Expect more companies to announce similar AI integration in 2024.

10. Retro gets serious

Gaming trends for 2024; a man with paint and mud on his face

2024 will see new gaming remasters and remakes, like Metal Gear Solid Delta, but also more dedicated retro consoles. (Image credit: Konami)

Over the past few years we've seen a deluge of retro games consoles and mini consoles that come preloaded with classic retro games, along with high-end machines such as the Analogue Pocket that play a range of old cartridges. (Read our guide to the best retro consoles.)

Now, however, things are shifting. We’re starting to see new retro releases that replicate old consoles and computers almost exactly, with the benefit that they can be easily connected to modern TVs and make use of new features to enhance these older game cartridges.

Atari has just released the Atari 2600+ that can play almost all of the original game console's cartridges released in the 1970s and 1980s, and it's fantastic. In fact, Atari us back in a big way after buying retro remake specialist Digital Eclipse, so expect new Atari games and remakes in 2024. 

Also, Retro Games Ltd has announced it will be releasing a 'new full size Amiga console' in Q4 2024, which could see the release of new 16-bit games for the beloved 1990s computer. If this trend continues, perhaps we'll see other companies join them. Could Sega rerelease the Mega Drive, for example? Will we finally get a Dreamcast in 2024? And let's not forget Capcom is rumoured to be releasing a new Resident Evil remake in 2024 and I would expect Nintendo to have something old lined up for Switch 2's launch.

Of course, the most successful way to experience retro games has also been from remakes and remasters, with some terrible missteps like the Batman Arkham Trilogy on Nintendo Switch. Below I've listed five of the best classic games making a comeback in 2024:

  • Final Fantasy VII Rebirth The follow-up to the massive Final Fantasy VII Remake for PS5, this 'sequel' could go in any number of narrative directions since Square Enix has diverged from the traditional story.
  • Silent Hill 2 Developer Bloober Team, the studio behind Layers of Fear, is working on a new version of Konami's classic horror game; a remake in the Resident Evil 4 vein is more likely than a remaster.
  • Splinter Cell This one has been rumoured for a while now, with Ubisoft Toronto said to be using the superb Snowdrop Engine to create a full remake for PS5, Xbox Series X and PC. 
  • Max Payne 1 and 2 Remakes of Remedy Entertainment's first two bullet-time noir shooters using the Alan Wake 2 tech? This sounds like a perfect way to start 2024.
  • Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater This remake is using Unreal Engine 5 to bring the jungles of Big Boss' origin story to life on PS5 and Xbox Series X. A teaser released earlier this year looked technically good, but will fans be happy?

11. Godot makes gains

Gaming trends for 2024; weird colourful cartoon animals fight

More indie developers will turn to Godot as a developer platform in 2024. Cassette Beasts (pictured) was made in Godot. (Image credit: Raw Fury / Bytten Studio)

Unity’s well-publicised troubles this year have prompted many developers, including Slay the Spire creator Mega Crit, to vow to abandon the game development platform. (Read our guide, 'Unity: everything you need to know' for a lowdown of this game engine.)

Like many others, Mega Crit has turned instead to the open-source game engine Godot, which potentially stands to gain enormously from the influx of talent. With enough people behind it, the platform could become a serious rival to Unity, in much the same way that the open-source Blender software has come to rival Maya in terms of functionality.

Even in 2023 a number some of the best indie games were made using Godot, including my personal favourite Cassette Beasts; other excellent indies include Usagi Shima, Resolutiion and Ex Zodiac. I can see the number of new games using this platform growing in 2024, 

12. Unreal Engine 5 unleashed

Gaming trends for 2024; a person holds a sword up to a bear

More games built in Unreal Engine 5 will be released in 2024; one of the best is Avowed by Obsidian Entertainment. (Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment)

The first few games made using Epic Games' powerful Unreal Engine 5 have started to be released, with games such as Lords of the Fallen, Robocop: Rogue City and Ghostrunner 2 all demonstrating the power of the game engine. Remnant 2 developer Gunfire Games recently revealed how the team used Nanite and Lumen.

So 2023 has been a good start for Unreal Engine 5, but we'll begin to see many more major releases powered by the engine in 2024. Titles such as Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, Black Myth: Wukong and Nightingale are likely to be showcases for Epic Games' graphics technology in 2024, and further down the line we also know that new entries in franchises such as Tomb Raider, Gears of War and The Witcher will be built using UE5.

Let's also not forget Unreal Engine 5 is becoming the go-to engine for VR game development, and if virtual reality is the new battleground for hardware in 2024 with PSVR 2, Meta Quest 3 and Apple Vision Pro scrapping it out, then we'll see more UE5-developed VR games next year, nudging out Unity.

Below are five of the best new games coming in 2024 that have been made using Unreal Engine 5.

  • Avowed This action-RPG is set in the same universe as traditional fantasy role-play game Pillars of Eternity, now with UE5 powered visuals and a large open world to explore, it's one that will impress.
  • Tekken 8 This latest addition to the fighting game series features designs by Okami and Bayonetta character artist Mariko Shimazak. Bandai Namco's technical fighting series always impresses, and this one releases 24 January.
  • Black Myth: Wukong Developed by Chinese developer Game Science and based on the classic novel Journey to the West, this game has been impressing ever since it was announced almost three years ago.
  • Still Wakes the Deep The developer behind Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and Dear Esther is making use of UE5 to bring its suspenseful oil rig-set horror to life; early gameplay footage looks incredible.
  • Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II Developer Ninja Theory has a close relationship with Epic Games and had been an early adopter of most new features in UE5 - and has been used to demo new tech at GDC. Hellblade II will look amazing.

Gaming trends for 2024, everything you need to know about Unity 6

Unity 6 is the biggest new release in a number of years and feels like 2024 could be a make or break year for the platform. (Image credit: Unity / Synty Studios)

An estimated 8,000 people have been laid off in the games industry since January 2023, and the downsizing is likely to continue into 2024, with companies citing various reasons for redundancies, from high inflation to over-expansion during the Covid pandemic. Most exposed is the Embracer Group, which has vowed to cut its debt by half before the end of the financial year, a plan that is likely to mean divesting or closing more studios.  

Unity has also said it is likely to be implementing more layoffs, and the company is still reeling from the disastrous reveal of its Runtime Fee plans in September. The latest version of its game engine software – Unity 6 – is set to debut in 2024, and the response it receives from developers could be crucial to the future of the company.

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Lewis Packwood
Video games journalist

Lewis Packwood has been writing about video games professionally since 2013, and his work has appeared in The Guardian, Retro Gamer, EDGE, Eurogamer, Wireframe, Rock Paper Shotgun, Kotaku, PC Gamer and Time Extension, among others. He is also the author of Curious Video Game Machines: A Compendium of Rare and Unusual Consoles, Computers and Coin-Ops (White Owl, 2023).

With contributions from